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A Domestic Scene
French
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Scenes of mothers and children were fashionable in eighteenth-century France, much encouraged by the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who advocated a ‘natural’ approach to child-rearing.

A young mother is sitting in a beam of light at a table with three of her infants wriggling on her lap. An older child is seated at the table, while another plays in the shadows on the floor and a baby’s cradle is rocked by an old woman. The young servant’s headdress and the straw-covered flask of wine on the table suggest that the artist was in or knew Italy. They were clearly familiar with Greuze’s painting The Well-Beloved Mother (private collection, Madrid) as the group of the mother and children is very similar.

We do not know who painted this picture. Although Jean-Honoré Fragonard produced sketchy interior scenes with working women during his first stay in Italy in 1756–61, the brushwork does not resemble his extremely fluid way of painting.

Key facts
Artist French
Full title A Domestic Scene
Date made late 1770s
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 37.5 x 48.3 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2620
Location in Gallery Not on display
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